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Fast Break: Celtics vs. Mavericks 01.18.10 at 10:38 pm ET
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BOSTON — What started off as a duel between Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd ended as a one-man show starring Dirk Nowitzki. The Celtics crumbled in the second half as the Mavericks went on tear to erase a nine-point halftime deficit and win, 99-90, in Boston.

Player of the Game: Dirk Nowitzki had an impressive first half with 13 points. Then he came out of halftime and crushed the Celtics to carry the Mavs to victory. He was nearly flawless in a critical third quarter in which he shot 6-for-7 from the field for 13 points. Nowitzki continued the assault in the fourth, scoring another eight points to finish with a game-high 37 (14-for-22 FG).

Turning point: Whatever Rick Carlisle said at halftime worked for the Mavericks. Led by Nowitzki, they dominated the third quarter. The Mavs erased the Celtics’ 50-41 halftime lead to go up 75-68 by the end of the third. Aiding Nowtizki was Erick Dampier, who scored his first 11 of the game in those 12 minutes. The Celtics gave up a season-high 34 points in the third and lost all control of the game.

- Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd combined for 19 points in the first quarter. But they both went scoreless in the second quarter (neither attempted a field goal). Pierce finished with 24 points (9-for-17 FG) while Kidd posted 13 (5-for-7) and 17 assists.

- Kendrick Perkins showed a poise and maturity tonight by staying out of foul trouble. He picked up his first personal nine minutes into the game and didn’t get whistled again until six minutes left in the third quarter.  Perkins finished the game with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

- Rasheed Wallace posted 11 points (5-for-13 FG) and three rebounds in 35 minutes in his first game back since being sidelined with a sore left forefoot.

- The Celtics are now 4-9 when trailing after three quarters.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki,
Report: Marbury to play in China at 10:05 am ET
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It was only a matter of time before Stephon Marbury news circulated again. Nearly a year after signing with the Celtics, Marbury is reportedly going international.

Marbury has agreed to play for Shanxi Club of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), the team announced on their website (via Reuters). He will arrive in Shanxi next week.

While no financial terms were disclosed, Marbury reportedly did not request a blockbuster deal because he wants to promote his Starbury line of shoes in China.

Marbury appeared in 23 games for the Celtics last season. He averaged 3.8 points and 3.3 assists.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Stephon Marbury,
Celtics stay loose at practice 01.16.10 at 2:32 pm ET
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WALTHAM — After losing to the Bulls on Thursday night, the Celtics stayed loose during Saturday’s open practice. The uplifting mood was good for the team.

“After losses, sometimes guys can be mad at each other a little bit,” said Kendrick Perkins. “Sometimes we need a little laughter in the gym, stuff like that. I think that helped us.”

First some news before the notes …

- Rasheed Wallace (sore left foot)  is expected to play on Monday against the Mavericks. “Definitely, I’m going to go Monday,” he said after practice. “I’ve got one more [practice] to get under my belt. I’ll be fine.” Doc Rivers said the team will make a final decision after observing Wallace in practice on Sunday. Wallace, who has missed the last three games, is eager to shake the injury that has been bothering him for some time. “It happened a while ago,” he said. “I’ve been playing on it for two weeks. The last few minutes in the Toronto game last week, that sort of did it.”

- J.R Giddens and Bill Walker faced off in a slam dunk contest. Marquis Daniels and Wallace were the official judges, holding up their scores on dry-erase boards. Walker started off strong with a windmill dunk but it was Giddens who stole the show. “The between the legs one? A 10,” ranked Perkins. “That was alright, especially in practice.” Just alright? The dunk sent Eddie House running around the court and had Glen Davis rolling backward.

- House and Ray Allen took to the line for a free throw competition. The team’s top two free throw shooters were flawless despite desperate attempts from the Celtics to distract them. Rivers encouraged the crowd to make noise, Paul Pierce leaped under the basket as House and Allen squared up, the buzzer sounded, even Danny Ainge threw up shots to shake the pair. In the end, the duel ended in a tie without either player missing a free throw.

The Celtics will practice — think drills, not contests — on Sunday before taking on the Mavericks Monday night at 8pm in Boston.

Read More: Bill Walker, Boston Celtics, J.R. Giddens, Kendrick Perkins
Fast Break: Celtics vs. Bulls 01.14.10 at 10:49 pm ET
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BOSTON ‘€“ The last time the Bulls played in Boston, they were dealt an embarrassing 28-point loss. On Thursday night, they redeemed themselves. Despite being outscored by an average of 27 points in two losses to the C’s this season, the Bulls came out with the win, 96-83, at the TD Garden.

Player of the Game: Luol Deng immediately established himself as the leader of the Bulls, scoring 16 points in the first half alone. And it wasn’t just how many points Deng scored (25) that made a difference, it was how he scored them. He took smart shots (8-for-13 FG) and was nearly perfect at the line (9-for-10 FT).

Turning Point: The Celtics led just once the entire game, and even then it was a 2-0 advantage. They relinquished their lead less than two minutes into the first quarter and never got it back. Even though the Celtics starters got rest last night in their blowout against the Nets, they looked sluggish in the first half. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce shot a combined 4-for-14 while Allen shot 0-for-3 from three-point range.

- The anticipated match up between Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose was a non-factor for the first three quarters. Rose was benched with foul trouble early on and had been outscored 15-8 by Rondo … until the fourth quarter. As the Celtics tried to close in, Rose (17 points) propelled the the Bulls by both scoring and dishing the ball. His play-making skills gave his team the edge they needed to hold on.

- Despite playing with a swollen thumb, Glen Davis was one of the most aggressive Celtics on the boards. He grabbed eight rebounds ‘€“ he hardly made any of them look easy ‘€“ and blocked the pain to contribute an hustling performance.

- Eddie House hit his first three-point shot since January 10 against the Raptors. He finished the game with 11 points (5-for6 FG, 1-for-2 FG).

- After playing back-to-back games, the Celtics will get a three-day rest before they play the Mavericks on Monday night.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls,
Davis wishes for superhero power at 8:39 pm ET
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BOSTON — Here’s something for “Heroes” fans to ponder: If Glen Davis could pick one character to be, who would he choose?

The answer is a petite blonde cheerleader.

OK, OK, hear him out.

“I wish I was a ‘Hero.’ I wish I was Claire,” he said as he looked at his bandaged right hand. “Claire heals so she can never die. She just heals.”

That’s all Davis has been trying to do since breaking his right thumb in October. Last night he banged it during the game against the Nets, and today he had to repeatedly  ice it to keep the swelling down.

“Bone healed nicely, that’s what the doctor said,” he said. “So hopefully it won’t break.”

Davis will continue to play through the pain. He already has made up his mind to do so.

“In the words of Danny Ainge, back in those days, this ain’t nothing,” he said.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Glen Davis,
Inside the Game: Rajon Rondo and the art of passing 01.12.10 at 11:58 pm ET
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Last week, Rajon Rondo helped pull off one of the most memorable plays of this season ‘€” an inbound lob from Paul Pierce with 0.6 seconds left that Rondo converted for a basket to force overtime against the Heat. The scheme worked because Rondo was the most unsuspecting target on two fronts: Not only was he the smallest player on the court for the Celtics, he usually is the guy dishing, not receiving.

Rondo considers his passing skills to be a natural ability. He didn’t grow up studying point guards. He didn’t even grow up watching basketball at all. Finding the open man was just something that came to him on the court.

‘€œI don’t know if it’s a skill. Maybe it’s just natural,’€ he said. ‘€œI think it’s just like a natural feel for the game. I pride myself on making guys better, so I would rather do that than score the ball.’€

Rondo set the school records for most assists in a single game (31) and season (494) at Oak Hill Academy in 2004. He went on to lead the SEC in dimes (4.9 APG) as a sophomore at the University of Kentucky.

Now in his fourth season with the Celtics, Rondo is seeing the court better than ever before. He leads the Eastern Conference with 9.6 assists per game and ranks fourth among all players ‘€” behind only Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. He has already recorded 336 assists in his first 35 games of the season, closing in on his mark of 393 from the 2008 championship campaign and more than half-way to last season’s tally of 659. (The Celtics currently rank second in the league with 23.83 assists per game.)

As part of WEEI.com’€™s ‘€œInside the Game’€ series with the Celtics, Rondo talked no-look assists, alley-oops with Kevin Garnett, the impact of Ubuntu, and the art of passing:

Wait for it: Identifying who is open is only half the battle. The key is knowing when to dish it.
‘€œIt just depends on the defense, where he’s at on the court. You can’t really predetermine when to make the pass. It just has to be like a natural instinct. Sometimes you can try to predetermine and it can go either way. It can be a turnover or it can be a good pass. When the opportunity presents itself, you’ve got to make the decision at a certain time.’€

No formula for the no-look: Rondo has a way of baffling his defenders by making the pass they least expect.
‘€œMaybe just practice, try [no-look passes] every once in a while. But not now. You try to be solid and not make the home run pass, but it’s just natural for me. I don’t really try to do it to get the oohs and the ahhs. It’s the play I feel I need to make at the time. I may not be able to make the simple pass and it has to be the trickery bounce pass or the no-look pass to confuse the defense.’€

Dynamic dunking duo: The chemistry on the court between Rondo and Kevin Garnett makes alley-oops look effortless. But as Rondo explains, it takes a certain kind of player to pull off the dunk.
‘€œEverybody can’t do it. There are guys in the league that can do it, but it may be four or five things ‘€” you’ve got to have the athleticism, perceptiveness, the setup, knowing when to do it, you’ve got to be a good player. Part of the reason why [Garnett] gets so many lobs is because people fear him getting the ball. If he gets the ball, he’s going to score, so they try to deny him the ball. He has great coordination, great timing. When he spins out, he loses track of the ball, so after he turns around he has to go up and find the ball and then find the rim. It’s not as easy as it looks. He does a great job at it.’€

Passing off the credit: Rondo draws a direct correlation between his stats and his teammates’ offensive performances. The Celtics are ranked second in the league in field goal percentage (48.7 percent) this season, helping Rondo rack up the assists.
‘€œYou know what’s different? Guys like Rasheed Wallace, Ray Allen, they’re making shots. It’s pretty simple. I may be making a couple better plays, my assist-to-turnover ratio, but other than that, guys are making shots. [Kendrick Perkins] is shooting at a high level, KG is shooting at a high level, Paul went 100 percent from the 3 (twice in December). Guys are making shots. Not that we didn’t in years before, but this time I’ve got to give them all the credit, really. Without them making shots, there’s no assists.’€

Ubuntu = APG: He may only be 23, but Rondo learned an important lesson early in his career. Now he wants to share that with his younger fans.
‘€œI think that stands out the most on the court’€” unselfishness. It’s not necessarily ballhandling, it’s being unselfish for your teammates, sacrificing for your teammates. My situation is me giving up the ball to make somebody better. KG and Perk just defensively helping out when I may get beat off the dribble, their unselfishness just to come over and help makes me look better or maybe not look as bad as I was on defense. So, for a team to be a great team, I think you have to have a lot of people sacrifice a lot of things. We had the Big Three that came in, all leading their teams in scoring, they all had to sacrifice shots. They all did a great job of it. It’s not just me. It’s the whole team. It’s the whole team concept. That’s where Ubuntu comes in. I can go on and on about it.’€

PREVIOUS ENTRIES

Inside the Game: Shelden Williams and the art of rebounding

Inside the Game: Paul Pierce and the art of versatility

Inside the Game: Kendrick Perkins on the art of shot-blocking

Read More: Boston Celtics, inside the game, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo
Fast Break: Celtics vs. Hawks 01.11.10 at 10:08 pm ET
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BOSTON ‘€“ Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace didn’t have to be playing for fans to get their money’s worth. This game lived up to the hype and intensity that has become customary between the Celtics and Hawks since the 2008 playoffs. After leading by as many as 14, the Celtics were upset 102-96. But that wasn’t without comebacks, hard fouls, and ejections.

Player of the Game: Jamal Crawford went scoreless in the first half before scoring 17 points in the final two quarters. Even though Joe Johnson led all scorers with 36 points, Crawford hit clutch free throws and buckets to propel the Hawks down the stretch.

Turning Point: The Celtics led 67-57 with 6:16 left in the third before the chaos broke out. Here’s how it all went down ‘€“ Glen Davis got called for a flagrant foul on Marvin Williams (Zaza Pachulia had previously been called for a flagrant). Doc Rivers emphatically argued the ruling and got hit with two consecutive technicals, resulting in an ejection. As he walked off the court, he handed his notes over to assistant coach Armond Hill, who also got T’ed up before the clock even started again. Crawford hit three free throws and Williams knocked one down during the technical spree, cutting the Celtics lead to four. The Hawks then went on a 14-8 run to tie the game up at 75 apiece off of a Crawford trey. The Celtics never regained momentum and were outscored 25-16 in the fourth quarter.

- Paul Pierce attempted just two field goals in the fourth quarter, and missed them both. Rajon Rondo, who shot scored 17 points in the first half, scored just nine in the second.

- In a game of whistles, the Hawks made 33 trips to the free throw line (23-for-33) while the Celtics shot 14-for-18.

- Athleticsm came into play again tonight ‘€“ the Celtics were outscored 15-9 on fastbreak points. They were outscored 22-15 by the Hawks last Friday night.

- Brian Scalabrine got his first start since February 23, 2009 in place of Rasheed Wallace. He posted nine points, five rebounds, and four fouls in 21 minutes.

- Mike Bibby continues to be booed by Celtics fans on every possession. He played just 18 minutes (5 points, 2-for-3 FG) and did not play the entire fourth quarter.

- The Celtics will play the Hawks again on January 29 in Atlanta.

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics,
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